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Roberto Voerzio

If you want to get a sense of who Roberto Voerzio is, you have to look at the numbers, many of which go to extremes of both highs and lows in the viticultural calculus. Take, for example, his production yields. Voerzio’s yields are not only recognized as the lowest in Barolo, they come in at levels far below what are considered to be highly desirable: Each vine of Voerzio’s produces approximately 750 grams of fruit—roughly half of what is deemed to ensure an exceptional output for wines of high caliber. Thus, the production levels realized by Voerzio’s seven Barolos are exceedingly low, averaging between 150 and 450 cases.

In and of themselves, these Barolos are pretty impressive, as they represent the most highly esteemed sites of the La Morra commune—Brunate, La Serra, Cerequio, Rocche dell’Annunziata/Torriglione, Vecchie Vite dei Capalot e dell Brunate, and Sarmassa, the last two of which are produced exclusively in magnum format. (In addition to his Barolo portfolio, Voerzio also produces Barbera (including the renowned Barbera d’Alba Riserva Vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata, Dolcetto, Langhe-designated bottlings, and a Super-Piemonte named Vignaserra). A look into the production regimens of his Barolos reveals some pretty interesting numbers as well. Although Voerzio is not only typically classified as a modernist but thought to be the ultimate hierophant of the order, his standard maceration numbers just don’t add up to the statistical profile of an absolute modernist. In fact, his average of 15 days is well within the recognized traditional zone. Moreover, while Voerzio’s current vinification regimen (as of this writing, May 2008) privileges barrique, he’s not as close to this modern vessel as you might suppose. From 1988 to 1995, Voerzio utilized a combination of barriques and midsized barrels, a protocol that tacitly integrates modernity and tradition. Interestingly, Voerzio doesn’t regard this stage as one he’s moved on from; rather, he has expressed a desire to reinstate this approach, but is hesitant to do so for fear of alienating a significant proportion of modern wine drinkers.

In certain circumstances, however, such as those presented by the challenging 2003 vintage, Voerzio’s traditional principles trump the lure of modernity. Although some of his wines failed to complete fermentation—a condition that could have been ameliorated by additives—Voerzio declined to salvage them through unnatural means, thereby foregoing the production of two Barolos and a few other bottlings. Nonetheless, the ’03 vintage is of particular significance in Voerzio’s career. Unlike many producers, Voerzio is exceedingly pleased with the quality of his production overall, believing it to be one of his best vintages since 1996. His unrelenting perfectionism was particularly evident in the absurdly minute quantity of his yields (500 grams per plant). Vintage 2003 also marks the debut of a new Barolo in his portfolio—the Barolo Fossati Case Nere 10 Anni Riserva. Perhaps there is no more substantive testament to Voerzio’s desire to both honor and engage in traditional practices than this Riserva, which will not be released until 2013. Indeed, he regards this “bit of folly” as his Monfortino, the legendary Barolo of Giacomo Conterno that is widely considered to constitute the consummate expression in the category. His signature Barbera—Vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata Riserva—continues its hedonistic career, but Voerzio may be one of the most traditional “modernists” out there.

Barolo ‘Brunate’
Barolo ‘Cerequio’
Barolo ‘La Serra’
Barolo ‘Rocche’
Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata/Torriglione
Barolo ‘Sarmassa’
Barolo Vecchie Vite dei Capalot e dell Brunate
Barolo Fossati Case Nere 10 Anni Riserva
Barbera d’Alba Vignasse
Barbera d’Alba ‘Vigneto Pozzo dell’Annunziata’ Riserva
Dolcetto d’Alba ‘Priavino’
Langhe Merlot
Langhe Nebbiolo
Region: Piemonte

Barbera d'Alba
Dolcetto d'Alba